The challenge of genuine power sharing in participatory research: the gap between theory and practice

Can J Commun Ment Health. Fall 1996;15(2):145-52. doi: 10.7870/cjcmh-1996-0015.


Participatory research is often suggested as a strategy to overcome power imbalances between researchers and research "subjects" because it values equally the knowledge of each individual who participates in the project. However, there is little documentation of the dilemmas that may arise when a complex community service organization attempts to engage in participatory research. In our experience of a participatory research project with multiple partners, power imbalances arose from organizationally based perspectives that were unaccounted for in the participatory research literature, demonstrating that power is a complex and elusive factor in establishing equal relations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Patient Participation*
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Research Design